Continued from page 2

Humala had revived the sterilizations issue during last year’s presidential campaign against Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko, whom he defeated in a runoff, rekindling media interest.

Alejandra Cardenas of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights says she considers it “a crime against humanity because of the scale and systematic nature of how it was implemented.”

Cubas said the newly reopened investigation could include Alberto Fujimori, 72, himself as a potential defendant.

None of the three ex-ministers would agree to discuss the issue. All have said in the past that any forced sterilizations were isolated cases.

One sterilized woman, Serafina Illa, said her coerced tubal ligation, administered after she gave birth to her seventh child at age 34, went so badly that doctors declared her dead and sent her to the morgue.

Her husband found her there as she was awakening, she told the AP.

Another woman who underwent the procedure, Mamerita Mestanza, didn’t wake up.

Her death from a sterilization-related infection became the basis for a 2003 settlement reached with the Inter-American Commission in which Peru agreed pay more than $100,000 to Mestanza’s survivors and guarantee her children free education through high school and free medical care.

After it was determined that the government made the payments but didn’t honor its agreement to provide free education, Peruvian officials told the commission it would reopen the criminal investigation.

Mestanza had been told she needed to be sterilized because women who gave birth to more than seven children were being imprisoned, according to the settlement.

Other women were told that if they refused to submit to the surgery, their newborns would not be registered, activists say.

In some cases, women were given food and medicine or promised free education for their children if they agreed to be sterilized, said Hilaria Supa, a Cuzco congresswoman who has helped organize the victims.

“In Peru, there is no justice for the poor,” she said.

___

Associated Press writer Martin Villena contributed to this report.